Over 200 militia groups and users are using Facebook to organize nationwide, new report states

Facebook is a hotspot for conspiracy theories and dangerous organizing at critical moments, e.g Over 650,000 posts opposing President Biden’s victory Between the 2020 general elections and the January 6 uprising. Some users scattered after the last and subsequent follow-ups, but a new report first published by Wired shows a resurgence identifying nearly 200 groups and profiles on a platform that organizes nationwide militia activity.

research conducted by Technical Transparency Project, found that these groups have ties to organizations such as the Three Hundred Militia network, which Meta called an “armed militia group” on its 2021 List of Threatened Individuals and Organizations. However, groups such as the American Free Army urged users to join their local militias or the Three Percenters without success (Meta only later disbanded the American Free Army group. Wired asked about it, calling Facebook a “competitive space” that requires regular investment to stay safe).

Katie Paul, director of the Tech Transparency Project, has tracked hundreds of these groups and people since 2021 and has seen an increased seriousness and focus on organizing compared to the previous year. “Many of these groups are no longer splinter groups of localized militias, but coalitions of multiple militia groups, many of which are led by the Three Percent,” Paul said. Wired. “Facebook remains the largest gathering place for extremists and militia movements to cast a wide net and engage users in more private conversations, including a platform where they can plan and coordinate with impunity.”

The Tech Transparency Project found that users were looking for “active patriots” to discuss anti-government ideology, attend meetings and conduct combat training. The latter lends itself to a common theme: a willingness to confront or go to war with enemies like drag queens, pro-Palestinian college students, and the government itself.

Take a recent post by the administrator of Pennsylvania Light Foot, a group with more than 1,000 members: “In light of the violence and uncertainty around the world, the lack of Covid 19, civil unrest and the potential for terrorist attacks and natural disasters, We exist to equip our members, our purpose, whether It’s equipping them with the ability to defend themselves, whether it’s a mugger on the street or a foreign soldier on our turf, echoed by other extremist organizers on Facebook.

Meta at least tried to create a facade of movement and transparency. Launched in 2019 Board of Control as an independent reviewer of content moderation. While the agency points to Facebook’s role in dangerous election rhetoric, including events outside the US, critics say it’s not effective enough. now, The Washington Post reports That redundancies in the Supervisory Board may be inevitable.

On August 14 Meta will shut down CrowdTangle, a tool it acquired in 2016, has allowed journalists and academics to see how conspiracy theories and misinformation travel across Facebook and its sister Instagram — often exposing the platforms’ shortcomings. The company is replacing it with the Meta Content Library, which not only appears to be less detailed, but is also unavailable to commercial news organizations.

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